Backstage access to our collections: photography

Collection photo

Say cheese!

Hurstville Museum & Gallery is fortunate to have received a number of donations from local residents, allowing us to have a wide range of photographic equipment in its collection. Items such as this “Popular Brownie” camera [1], which was manufactured by Kodak in 1939, allow us to see an evolution of photographic technology, as well as appreciate the photographs and moments these items would have helped capture. Kodak opened a branch in Melbourne in 1900 and the first Box Brownie camera was released the same year.[1] Due to its ease of use and reasonable price, it became a fast favourite.[2] The success of the camera caused the name ‘Brownie’ to become synonymous with photography; Kodak produced over 100 models with the last being the 110 Cartridge Brownie produced in 1986.[3]

Popular brownie

H2001.31 – Popular Brownie Camera, Hurstville Museum & Gallery collection.

With camera’s becoming more readily available this allowed people to document their everyday lives as well as special occasions. Photographs are an incredibly useful source that allow glimpses into the lives of residents and can assist those researching the area. Georges River Libraries has thousands of images available of the area, via the online catalogue.

Amateur photographers were able to develop their own photographs without a dark room with this Kodak photograph tank [2] which dates from 1907 – 1920.

Kodak film tank

1980.77 – Kodak film tank, Hurstville Museum & Gallery collection.

Advertising for the tank proudly states that with this equipment you can “develop your films anywhere – all by daylight!”[4]

Kodak film tank ad

Advertising for the film tank, published in Photo Miniature, September 1914.[5]

It was also possible to develop your own postcards. This set of photo paper with pre-printed postcard backing [3] became available to audiences as early as 1902.

Photography postcards

1980.78 – Pack of photograph postcards, Hurstville Museum & Gallery collection.

This range of photographic technology is just a glimpse of its evolution over time; photographs from the Georges River area have also demonstrated how the area has evolved and adapted over time, with images even being merged to create a comparison of the changes in the area in an exhibition titled Hurstville: Past and Present in 2015.

Combined image

A combined image of Forest Road and Treacy Street taken in 1926 and 2015, featured in the exhibition Hurstville: Past and Present.

[1] Angeletta Leggio, ‘A history of Australia’s Kodak manufacturing plant’, The Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material, viewed 11 September 2018,

[2] ‘Advertising’, The Advertiser, 25 September 1915, p. 16.

[3] ‘International Brownie Camera Day’, Brownie Camera, visited 10 September 2018,

[4] ‘International Brownie Camera Day’, Brownie Camera, visited 10 September 2018,

[5] ‘Kodak Film Tank’, Wagner Lungov, viewed 10 September 2018,

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